30 years? Holy shit, I remember when Tesla was considered a new band. Far more talented that the critics gave them credit for, or the bands they are lumped in with, Tesla have officially stood the test of time. May as well use the 30th anniversary to put out a live album. Unlike many other bands from their era, Tesla produced a number of studio albums worth listening to from front to back. Their debut Mechanical Resonance has long been a favourite, a high quality slab o’ rock, so may as well play the whole thing live, right?
Tesla tweaked the song order (presumably for the live concert experience) to start with “Rock Me to the Top”. Eternally young singer Jeff Keith has barely aged, and has lost nothing in the decades. The rasp, the power, and the character are all intact. The keys have been lowered, as any 30 year old band would have to do, but it’s hardly noticeable. This makes Mechanical Resonance Live an absolute pleasure to listen to.
The other guys in the band kick as much ass as possible. Tesla are a guitar band, and losing the talented and charismatic axeman Tommy Skeoch (first in the 90’s and then again in 2006) was a hell of a blow to suffer. With mainstay Frankie Hannon on guitar, and new addition Dave Rude, they have continued on forcefully. You can tell one ingredient is missing compared to the original LP, but that also makes it a fresh take on an old favourite. As for the rhythm section of Brian Wheat (bass) and Troy Luccketta (drums), I think age has only made them better (just listen to “Cover Queen”). Troy has his own distinct drum style, and you can hear that in the cymbal work.
Strangely, some of the songs that stick out most are the slow tracks. “Changes” for example is amped up, guitars duelling furiously, with Jeff pouring his all into the microphone. “Before My Eyes” is another slower song with some stunning guitar work from Rude and Hannon. Of course the hits are also fantastic — “Little Suzie”, “EZ Come EZ Go”, and of course an explosive “Modern Day Cowboy” which is moved to the closing slot in the set.
Tesla have a 30 year friendship with Def Leppard, and that’s why there is one new studio song written and produced by Phil Collen. The opening chords, melody and rhythm of “Save That Goodness” are all immediately identifiably Def Leppard. Tesla are a little more rough-edged than Leppard, and that especially comes out in Jeff Keith’s rasp. Great track, and something special for the fans craving new music since 2014’s Simplicity. I’m a sucker for a great new song at the end of a live album.
But that’s not all! The Japanese release has one more extra — the classic “Hang Tough” from The Great Radio Controversy. It sounds live, but there’s no crowd noise. Whether it’s mixed out or if this is a rehearsal recording, the booklet does not say.